After being spotted by Japanese vessels well before their scheduled launch from the carrier Hornet, the Raiders were forced to launch earlier than planned. This meant that the fuel calculations would fall short of the planned amount for their trip to the original destination of Chuchow, China. Also, their arrival in China would be at night, rather than during daylight, as originally planned. Fortunately, sailors on the Hornet filled ten five-gallon gas cans and passed them hand to hand to each aircraft. This provided the difference between pitching at sea and coming down over land.
In this painting by William S. Phillips, one of many the artist has completed on the Doolittle Raid, General Doolittle and his crew in aircraft 02344 break into a momentary area of clear sky. The last rays of sunlight bring only slight hope that they will survive their ordeal, as their fuel state becomes critical and the outcome is uncertain.
The print was countersigned by the surviving members of Doolittle's Raiders attending the 68th Reunion at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH, April 16-18, 2010.Signatures:Col. USAF (Ret.) Richard E. COLE, Co-Pilot Crew 1
Lt. Col. USAF (Ret) Robert L. HITE, Co-Pilot Crew 16
Major USAF (Ret) Thomas C. GRIFFIN, Navigator Crew 9
SSgt David J. THATCHER, Engineer-Gunner Crew 7
Richard E. Cole, Colonel
Co-Pilot Crew 1
Cole was the co-pilot of Doolittle's plane and the first off of the Hornet's deck, around 0800 (8:00 am ship time) April 18, 1942. Close to 1330 (1:30 pm ship time), they dropped their first bombs on Tokyo. They continued on toward China. At 2120 (9:20pm ship time) after 13 hours in the air, and having covered nearly 2,250 miles, Cole and the rest of his crew bailed out over China.
Cole enlisted November 22, 1940. He completed pilot training and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, July, 1941. Cole remained in China-Burma-India until June, 1943 and served again in the China-Burma-India Theater from October, 1943 until June, 1944. Cole was relieved from active duty in January, 1947 but returned to active duty in August, 1947. He was Operations Advisor to Venezuelan Air Force from 1959 to 1962. His peacetime service included posts in Ohio, North Carolina and California. Cole rated as Command Pilot. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and the Chinese Army, Navy and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
Robert L. Hite, Lieutenant Colonel
Co-Pilot Crew 16
Hite's plane, Bat out of Hell, slid on the Hornet's deck in the rough seas before take-off and in the process a sailor lost an arm in the propeller's blades. After bombing Nagoya they made for the Chinese coast. After he and the crew bailed out south of Hanchung, they were captured by the puppet government forces, though Hite was the last to be caught. The Japanese executed fellow crew members Lt. William Farrow and Corporal Harold Spatz. Hite and the rest of his crew spent the next 40 months in POW camps.
Hite enlisted September 9, 1940. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and rated as pilot on May 29, 1941. Hite was captured after Tokyo Raid and imprisoned by the Japanese for 40 months. He was liberated by American troops on August 20, 1945 and he remained on active duty until September 30, 1947. Hite returned to active duty during Korean War on March 9, 1951 and served overseas before relief from active duty again in November, 1955. Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster and Chinese Breast Order of Pao Ting.
Thomas Carson Griffin, Major
Navigator Crew 9
Griffin was navigator on the Whirling Dervish. After a smooth take off and bomb run over the Kawasji truck and tank factory in Tokyo the crew headed for China. They bailed out about 100 miles south of Poyang Lake.
Griffin entered service on July 5, 1939 as Second Lieutenant, Coast Artillery, but requested relief from active duty in 1940 to enlist as a Flying Cadet. He was rated as a navigator and re-commissioned on July 1, 1940. After the Tokyo Raid, Griffin served as a navigator in North Africa until he was shot down and captured by the Germans on July 3, 1943. Griffin remained a POW until release in April, 1945. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Chinese Army, Navy and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
David J. Thatcher, Staff Sergeant
Engineer-Gunner Crew 7
Thatcher flew on Lt. Lawson's Ruptured Duck. On take-off, the plane's flaps were not extended and the plane seemed as if it would fall into the water. They recovered and went on to bomb an industrial section of Tokyo. He was the only member of his crew not seriously injured when his plane crashed in the water short of the beach on which they were trying to land. Thatcher's exploits can be read in detail in Lawson's Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.
Thatcher enlisted December 3, 1940. After the Tokyo Raid, he served in England and Africa until January, 1944. Thatcher was discharged from active duty in July, 1945. His decorations include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Chinese Army, Navy and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.